Through the Streets of London

Chapter XIII: The taunting

"I wouldn't describe myself as lacking in confidence, but I would just say that - the ghosts you chase you never catch." ~ John Malkovich

Silence had fallen in the car - actually the black Land Rover jeep, that time they had a more "fancy car" indeed - during the drive back to the Office. Everyone was caught up in their own thoughts. Hotch was looking outside through the window. All this with Foyet… He was purely angry with that bastard scratching old wounds. He rubbed his forehead. He couldn't be thinking about that ordeal again, not at this moment, then the other killer that they were trying to catch now would achieve what he wanted. He turned his attention inside the car.

Emily was sitting in the front seat keeping her eyes at the front, stealing glances to the driver on her right. That's why she had sat there. Hotch and Emily had tried to comfort each other but the woman beside her was left alone. Emily had even offered to drive but Gloria had refused. She wanted to do something to keep herself distracted. But judging from her blank stare on the road in front of them she wasn't distracted at all. She was the one with the freshest wound and their UnSub had learnt her whole story, too, even if she was under an alias back then. Maybe she was the link that they had to investigate and Hotch knew that Emily wasn't going to, so he had to do it. He was the bad one from the start and their usual "conversations", that could be more accurately described as "fights", could help him get back on his tracks.

When they turned into a main road, the car came to an abrupt stop reaching a long row of cars waiting at a red light, London traffic.

"And that's when I hate this city…" Gloria murmured taking another sip of the cold coffee she had put in the case in the middle of the car. She had done it multiple times since the moment they got into the car. She was nervous.

"You can light a cigarette. That coffee isn't going to last forever, you know," Hotch told her. He had to calm her down in order to ask some questions and as it seemed, it was going to take some time to get to the Office.

She turned the heating a little stronger, cracked the window and lit a cigarette.

"What do you want to ask, Agent Hotchner, and you want me calm?" that woman reading his thoughts for one more time. "There is nothing else. What you saw happened to the point apart from the dead part obviously. I have no idea how he figured out I was an undercover agent and that other "detail"," she carried on in a cold tone rising her eyebrow.

"You said to me the other day that you frequent the area where they arrested the Executioner," that was something that had just popped in his mind. Maybe she had talked to someone. He knew that she wasn't allowed to, but if she had any other bad habits, she might have opened her mouth.

"I know I have a nasty habit, but that's all," she answered in the same tone, tossing the ash in the ashtray of the car, "In my "normal" life, I don't drink and speak, I don't drink much in general, I don't take other "things", not even painkillers."

"He made the face connection somehow. The matter is that he knows, also, that I got involved and you, Hotch, came. He is watching us. But we would have been alerted if someone sneaked in Interpol files," Emily changed the subject.

"I don't think that he is watching us digitally," Hotch answered.

"Something was wrong when we left the office, wasn't it?" Gloria asked him and Emily turned towards the back seat. He nodded.

"It's something that we can use probably," he said.

"But we don't even know his name and he thinks that we are going to stop him?" Gloria continued.

"With what we have it's maybe only matter of time before we get to know it and that's why he reacted first," Emily replied and he agreed.

Silence fell in the car again, till the moment they reached another heavy traffic crossroad.

"However that son of a bitch is completely out of his mind. He kills people to show that "we aren't better than him"? HE's wanted by Interpol and FBI. HE is the one that kills people for no reason. WE are searching for him, WE are obviously better than him," Gloria murmured bringing the flaming subject on the front.

"He doesn't take it in the literal way," Emily answered. "And not in the literal way, he isn't too wrong, too," she added in neutral voice.

That last made alarms ring in his head. Emily was really touched, too, by what the UnSub had written and that was dangerous.

"Emily, don't even go there!" Gloria spoke.

"That's what he wants us to do. If he is right or wrong, that's another question but we shouldn't let him distract us," Hotch continued in an attempt to persuade himself too.

Gloria looked at him through the mirror. When he had told that the Planner was taunting them, Emily had explained to her how the first victim looked like Doyle and that the third had something to do with him without giving more details. Gloria had already gone to the third scene herself but she didn't ask for those details. Hotch didn't know if she didn't because she didn't dare to or she didn't out of respect.

"What I know is that you can't stare into an abyss for long and make it not look back into you. But someone has to stand there and stare at it," Gloria added quietly.

"But this someone needs be strong enough to fight its stare…" Emily continued.

"I don't know about the strength but they definitely need to be insane to even stand there…" Gloria replied, smiling ironically.

Hotch raised his eyebrows at the last comment.

"What? You Hotch, you could have been the Director of the FBI by now, but you wanted to still chase monsters, make the world safer. You my friend," Gloria turned a bit to Emily, "as I told you back then, you weren't the kind that normally goes under, at least not for tasks like this for Doyle, and you knew deep down that you could have a quickly successful career without it. But you did it knowing the consequences and that after you had to start over, having your ex-boss back there", she motioned towards him, "questioning your abilities while, if he knew, you could be the star from day one. And as for me? I say that I work to catch bad guys but I spent the greatest part of my career playing one. Do all these sound "sane" to you?"

Hotch cracked an ironic side smile, too. She had a point. However, he noticed her remark about Emily, that she wasn't the type of person to do what she had done with Doyle. He had thought about that, too. Although she seemed too career driven since the first day she stepped into his office, Emily wasn't the woman to use her own body and soul like that. She had felt too bad when she had to flirt with the Fox and, to just tell the simple truth, Hotch didn't normally expect a richly grown girl with top studies and top connections to take on an undercover job. He knew CIA agents with studies in Yale but either they weren't rich so they were chasing opportunities and money, or just their characters weren't like Emily's. They were cold people, pretty ok with lying their whole lives. She told him the other day that she did it for her ambitions but wasn't it too much against herself to do it just for that? Then he wondered which was Gloria's motives to choose to have a whole career undercover. But he couldn't really tell. That woman didn't seem to fit in any category at all.

His phone rang interrupting his thoughts.

"Garcia you are on speaker," Hotch said putting the phone in the middle of the car.

"Pen, isn't the time too early for you?" Gloria asked.

"Actually it is too early in the morning but no problem! American and English forces joined together beat the time zones!" Garcia replied cheerfully even if, as it seemed, she had spent the whole night working.

"What do you have?" Hotch asked.

"I searched every single person involved in the case with the priest and I came up with absolutely nada."

"Tell me you have a but somewhere, PG," Emily told her.

"BUT I noticed something else odd. Do I sound too boring? Because this whole case is full of weirdy-quirky things!"

"Garcia…" Hotch tried to bring her back to the subject.

"OK! Your beautiful, fast information machine coming back on its tracks, my super Sir!" Garcia replied and in fact she made all of them smile a little, "There is someone who was a witness in the trial but he doesn't appear anywhere else and the hearings were done in closed doors."

"What do you mean he doesn't appear anywhere?" Emily asked.

"There is a little information about him. He has some criminal record that according to my beloved Morgan looks sporadic and like it's made up..."

"Oh Gosh… And closed door trials are a normal procedure….", Gloria interrupted her exchanging a glance with Emily.

"Penelope, he was an undercover cop," Emily assumed.

"Police wasn't doing anything in the area."

"Emily, you told me in the morning that the majority of the cases involve drugs," Hotch said looking at Emily who nodded. "Garcia, look into the FBI operations for drugs in that state," he ordered.

"Always loyal and as fast as a lightning! Garcie out!" she replied and ended the call.

They finally arrived at the Office. They wrote the messages on the board. There should be something useful for the Planner's profile in them. Hotch and Emily were standing while Gloria was sitting on the table.

"OK… He has a huge ego, that's for sure," Emily stated.

"Definitely and he doesn't only use Shakespeare's quotes, he manipulates them," Hotch continued her thoughts. "I think we need Reid to tell us about the context."

"I don't think that's gonna help," Gloria popped into the conversation, "The quotes are completely random taken from various plays," Hotch turned to her in question. "You are in England, remember? Every pupil in this country can tell you this. I haven't grown up here but my father was one-hundrend percent British, he taught me all this stuff."

"So he wants to seem sophisticated," Emily concluded.

"But he just went through the internet and picked whatever he thought proper. The thing is…" Gloria hesitated to continue looking at Emily.

"Say it," Hotch pressed her.

"Nothing…" she replied looking at him with an investigative expression. "Nothing," she said again neutrally.

"I would appreciate it, if you don't hide anything else.", Hotch said strictly. He had enough with her mysterious ways.

"Why am I always the bad here, Agent Hotchner?" she protested.

"Because something always needs to happen for you to say something!" he got frustrated himself. He was already shaken by what had happened and surfaced and he lost his patience more quickly.

"Do you really think that after this nut job killed three more people because of something that I started, I would still hide things?" she was surprised and disappointed raising her voice a little.

"Do you?" he asked sternly.

"Hotch, Gloria!" Emily tried to stop them touching his arm briefly.

"He put that woman through the same damn thing as me! He didn't just kill her. He tortured her by leaving her there to bleed to death! Whatever she was she didn't deserve it! He really does though!" Gloria said in higher voice. He knew that all this frustration from what she had seen in the alley just burst. Hotch noticed a tendency for revenge too.

"You do think that I don't have any conscience because I have done what I have," she concluded in low tone, then looking on the board her expression telling that something came up, "Or do you just look only on the surface? Because that's what he says last for you. I don't know if you use facades to hide your personal stuff, Agent Hotchner. But for sure you forget that other people do it too! And that's why it's an "advice"!", she turned to him accusingly.

-And another advice: "God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another." and "False face must hide what the false heart does know."-

That's the second time he heard the same thing since he arrived in that country. And he had acknowledged it already. Focused on psychology and behaviors he forgot about feelings hidden...

"Hotch, he isn't only playing with our pasts. He is playing with us too…" Emily went towards the board taking a pen underlining the last phrase of the message for him. She agreed on that. He knew, she had told him… "He also mentioned the poisoning, that made us doubt Gloria…" Emily continued marking the other phrase.

"And for you, the "expectation" and the "heartache"…", Gloria murmured to Emily.

-And a short notice: "Expectation is the root of all heartache."-

Hotch understood that this last thing was what Gloria had thought before but she didn't want to bring the subject up in front of him. Even her defensive and sometimes aggressive tactics, she respected the limits and he had attacked her instead. But his attention turned to Emily. He was feeling so guilty for causing her pain. He was the one that she was expecting and he had made her ache, ache for ignoring her back in the BAU, ache for not understanding what she had tried to tell him when she fell into his arms two nights ago. And the ironic thing was that he did it, not because the feelings weren't mutual but because of what was remarked previously. He dropped his head.

"Emily…" he tried to speak smoothly.

"I don't think that I need to hear whatever comes next," Gloria said getting up to go.

"No, Ria," Emily turned to her ignoring him. "There is nothing to come next," she continued neutrally.

"I'm sorry, Emily…" he said in low voice. He knew that he had to tell something else instead of this but all that situation and the presence of the other woman did not really help.

"There is nothing to be sorry about Hotch," Emily replied still without looking at him motioning to Gloria to sit back down and not leave them. She obeyed. "I mean look how I treated the whole subject from the rest of his "message"," Emily carried on in a forced neutral tone like she didn't mind.

-"some sold cupid kills with bullets.… be rough with love. Prick love for pricking and you beat love down".-

Hotch lifted his head. She shouldn't think like this. She had nothing to do with what was written and, also, she was falling in the trap. But who was he to speak? He was already in it, even if he pretended like he was coping… He saw Gloria looking at Emily surprised. She wasn't expecting her friend to fall for what the UnSub was saying, and then she threw a look at him, a sympathetic look, like the one from the previous morning.

"So we have an UnSub with a huge ego that's taunting us and playing with our personal relationships and he is watching us," Emily summed up the situation.

"We should keep him busy till we find him. If he thinks we are ignoring him then he may strike again," Hotch said.

"And how are we keeping him busy?" Gloria asked.

"We are giving him what he wants, showing him we are highly influenced by what he said to us," he clarified.

"Like we are not already there…" Gloria said looking at the table.

"Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." ~ Stephen King


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